What is Dao Yin?

Dao Yin

Dao Yin, “leading and guiding the Qi”, is really only another name for the art we now know as Qigong. In the past, Dao Yin was the name used to describe the entire art, but since the popularisation of the term Qigong it has been mainly used to describe the exercises used to “activate” the Qi prior to doing Qigong. However, because of the name “qigong” has been hijacked and is now synonymous with physical exercise, many teachers of true Qigong (ie. working with the Qi) are now reverting to using Dao Yin to describe their art in order to differentiate it from the faux qigong that is being passed off as the real thing. 

A Simple Dao Yin Preparation Routine

This Dao Yin routine takes approximately 15 minutes. It should be done in the morning, preferably before breakfast, and will energise you for the whole day. Although these exercises are designed to be done in a standing position, most can be adapted for a seated position.

  • Stand with the feet shoulder width apart and the toes pointing straight ahead, with the knees slightly bent. The spine should be erect (but not rigid), the head is held upright as though suspended by a single thread, and the coccyx should be tucked slightly forward to flatten out the curvature of the lower back.
  • Using the finger ends, tap all over the head and down onto the neck.
  • Flick the index fingers against the muscles at the back of the neck “Beating the Heavenly Drum”.
  • Using the thumbs, press lightly against the upper orbit of the eyes, working from the nose to the temples. (Repeat 3 times).
  • Using the index fingers, press lightly against the lower orbit of the eyes, working from the nose to the temples. (Repeat 3 times).
  • Using the index fingers, press lightly into the small indentation that is felt at the outer end of the eyebrows (the acupoint TH23).
  • Using the index fingers, press lightly into the small indentation that is felt immediately below TH23 (the acupoint GB1).
  • Using the thumbs, press up lightly against the cheekbones, working from the nose out to the ears (Repeat 3 times).
  • Using the thumbs, press lightly against the underside of the jaw, working front to rear. Lightly pull the ears up, back, and down. (Repeat 3 times).
  • Slow, gentle, neck rotations. Do not try to stretch the neck or force the movement.
  • Supporting the right elbow with the left hand, tap down on the left shoulder using a loose fist and keeping the wrist relaxed. Repeat the exercise on the other side.
  • Using the same tapping action, work down the inside of the arms (Yin) and then back up the outside (Yang),
  • Tap lightly across the chest, then down the midline, gradually working out to the sides.
  • Tap down the inside of the legs and then back up along the outside.
  • Massage the kidneys using the back of the hands.
  • Hold the palms against the Dan Tien and allow the Qi to accumulate while “rooting” through the feet.
Photograph of Des Lawton teaching Dao Yin and the Taiji Shibashi during a Pro-Holistic course

There are many other Dao Yin exercises that can be added to this routine including: –

  • Rubbing the index finger back and forward under the nose.
  • Rubbing the centre of the palm of the hand (the acupoint HG8), in an anti- clockwise direction, against the tip of the nose.
  • Standing in a “ horse stance” with the arms held out to the sides, transfer 70% of the weight to one side as you lean over so that one arm is held above and the other is held below. In this position, wriggle the fingers of the upper hand. Transfer to the other side and repeat. (Repeat 3 times to each side).